Hindu temple ceremony attracts 10,000

SINGAPORE - About 10,000 devotees and well-wishers thronged one of Singapore's oldest Hindu temples, the Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple in Katong, for its consecration ceremony yesterday.

They included former president S R Nathan, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, and Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef.

The auspicious event is held once every 12 years, after a Hindu temple is refreshed.

Crowds began gathering at the Ceylon Road temple, which is recognised as a historic site by the National Heritage Board, as early as 7am for the consecration, called Maha Kumbhabishegam.

Mr Goh, who had witnessed the previous consecration of the 120-year-old temple, said on Facebook that neighbouring residents need to be understanding about "some inconveniences".

"There will be daily chanting, beating of drums and blowing of trumpets. More traffic will crowd the narrow roads. The temple officials have taken steps to mitigate noise and manage traffic," he said.

"This is a good example of tolerance and harmony when living cheek by jowl," he added.

The two Cabinet ministers told reporters that the temple is a cornerstone of Singapore's cultural heritage and racial harmony. Said Mr Tan: "We are moving very fast as a society but we do need to be anchored to our roots."

Mr Shanmugam, noting how the temple started as a small hut, said: "Today, it's a grand temple and it's because of the devotees, not just the Ceylonese Tamils (who built and maintained it). Others have come forward to contribute as well."

Such rapport is evident in the wider community, said temple president R. Theyvendran.

The vicar and council of St Hilda's Church - sited 110m away - sent flowers to mark the occasion, and a group of Muslims attended the event.

The church and two neighbouring condominiums also offered their carparks for the guests.

Said Dr Theyvendran: "The neighbourhood has seen a changing demography with many new citizens visiting the temple to appreciate our culture. This is very heartening."

The management is awaiting official approval to erect a $1.5 million statue of Lord Vinayagar, nearly 10m tall and carved out of a single slab of granite stone.


This article was first published on Jan 27, 2015.
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